Cover Story / Summer 2007
Young Grads, Big Ideas

Today’s young graduates are aiming straight for the top

There’s a revolution underway. Not the kind that sets guns blazing or topples governments, but the type that will have far-reaching consequences for almost everything we do.

Vincent Lam, Author/physician
Ben Barry, Modelling agent
Sara Seager, Astronomer
Raja Khanna, Digital pioneer
Dr. Kellie Leitch, Orthopedic surgeon
Tenniel Chu, Golf magnate
Allen Chan and Matt Davis, Interior designers
Luis Jacob, Visual Artist
Maggie MacDonald, Writer/musician
Mark Schatzker, Journalist
Katrina Merrem, Chocolatier
Zaib Shaikh, Actor
Nima Arkani-Hamed, Physicist
Andrea Brueckner, Fashion designer
Ryan Pyle, Photographer
Wendy Yu, Marketing whiz
Lawrence Ho, Casino tycoon
Anthony Lacavera, Telecom entreprenuer
Jonathan Anschell, Entertainment lawyer

Call it youthful innovation, or the upending of corporate hierarchy. Many of today’s young graduates, born in the
1970s, are taking the quick route to the top by setting up their own companies and using the Internet to promulgate their ideas. Their outlook is entrepreneurial and international. They thrive on change. And their ideas are now shaping how we live.

Think of Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, the twenty-something founders of popular video-sharing website YouTube, who sold their fledgling company to Google last fall for almost $2 billion. Or Mark Zuckerberg, whose online social network, Facebook, is now used by tens of millions of people. He just turned 23.

Digital technology is creating new opportunities for young people. But this generation’s “do-it-yourself ” attitude has spilled over to a whole range of endeavours. While some, like Zuckerberg, are devising innovative online tools, others are using the Internet to sell (or share ideas about) music, clothing, video games, films or books they’ve made themselves. Never before have the tools of marketing and distribution – a computer and access to the Internet – been available to so many.

You’ll find some of the faces of this revolution in the following pages – U of T grads under 40 who, for the most part, have developed interesting ideas and are forging their own unique career paths. Many live in Canada, but their perspective is global; their ambitions reach beyond national borders.

Twenty-four-year-old Ben Barry didn’t like the ultra-narrow criteria used by most modeling agencies, so he set up his own business and scored a major coup with the Dove “Real Beauty” Campaign. He’s now doing a PhD at Cambridge University in England.

Commerce graduate Andrea Brueckner, 30, designs and sells handbags in the highly competitive world of New York City fashion.

Raja Khanna, 34, co-founded Quick- Play Media, to bring Canadians video via their mobile phones. AndSara Seager, a 35-year-old astronomer at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., studies planets outside our solar system to determine whether they can support life.

Of course, there are thousands of young U of T alumni whose intriguing ideas will shape the future of their chosen fields. The ones profiled here offer but a taste of what’s to come.

Reader Comments

# 1
Posted by Scott Anderson on March 18th, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

Recently the Toronto Star featured a report on 20 of Canada’s most dynamic and gifted young people under the age of 20. What an amazing group! They are teaching underprivileged youth computer and life skills, making care packages for kids in shelters, starting libraries in Third World countries, working on scientific research projects, fundraising for poor children in India, teaching music to autistic children, working to improve the environment, providing medical supplies to the Third World and much more.

Then I got my University of Toronto Magazine for Summer 2007 featuring “Young Grads, Big Ideas.” I expected to see similarly inspiring stories. I did read about a number of young grads who are excelling in medicine, science and the arts but also found a modelling agent, a golf magnate, interior designers, an actor, a chocolatier, a handbag maven, a casino tycoon, a marketing whiz and an entertainment lawyer. Wow! For the sake of society I hope the Star’s “under 20s” will stay away from U of T.

Mary Doucette
BEd 1977

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